Director and Founder of Prairie Percussion
Winnipeg based Victoria Sparks is an active solo, orchestral and chamber percussionist. She completed her bachelor’s degrees in Music and Education studying with Rob Gardner and Jauvon Gilliam (University of Manitoba) and she completed her Masters in Percussion Performance with Jon Crabiel (Butler University). Active as a soloists in a variety of chamber music series in Winnipeg (Music’n’Mavens, Millennium Library, etc) Victoria also performs regularly with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. She is principal Timpani/Percussion with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra as well as working with many other local arts organizations including the Brandon Chamber Players, the Groundswell New Music Series, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Singers. In 2016 she had the honour of premiering Sid Robinovitch’s Concerto for Percussion and Strings with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Victoria works closely with clarinettist Cathy Wood in their collaborative project Viđarneistí. This duo has commissioned works for their unique instrumentation and they perform regularly in Manitoba and as well as at conferences and festivals throughout Canada and internationally.
In 2018, Sparks is delighted to be joining the faculty at the University of Manitoba teaching percussion as well as directing the percussion ensemble. She is delighted to be working full time with the faculty and students in the Desautels Faculty of Music. Before beginning this exciting new chapter she was the Coordinator of Percussion Studies at Brandon University (since 2010). She is the founder and director of the MBA Prairie Percussion Workshop (since 2012), an education and performance based event for percussion students in middle and high school. She also maintains an active schedule as an adjudicator and clinician in Manitoba and Saskatchewan through various organizations and festivals. Victoria is honoured to be a part of the Yamaha Artist family and is proud to endorse their world class instruments and artistic initiatives.
ichael Kemp, a native of Rochester, New York, was appointed Principal Timpanist of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in 2015. Prior to this, he served as the Principal Timpanist of the Erie Philharmonic in Erie, PA.
In demand as a Guest Principal Timpanist, Michael has appeared with many orchestras including the San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Albany Symphony, and the West Virginia Symphony. He has also performed as a percussionist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and can be heard performing on the NAXOS label.
Michael received both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Percussion Performance from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he studied with Edward Stephan, Chris Allen, Andrew Reamer, and Jeremy Branson of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, Mr. Kemp attended Cleveland State University where he studied with Tom Freer of the Cleveland Orchestra. While growing up in Rochester, NY, Michael had the opportunity to study with Ruth Cahn, John Beck, and Charles Ross.
Michael previously served as the Principal Timpanist of the National Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, CO and has attended the Aspen Music Festival, Brevard Music Center Institute, and the Chautauqua Music Festival.
Michael currently resides in the beautiful Wolseley neighborhood of Winnipeg with his wife Anna who is a bassist and founder of the composer + coffee project. In his free time, Michael plays hockey and is an enthusiastic supporter of Buffalo sports teams. Mr. Kemp is a proud endorser of Freer Percussion products and Remo drumheads.
Since graduating from Brandon University in 2013 Cody has been playing, teaching, doing sessions, and touring professionally in North America, Europe, The Caribbean, and Australia. Cody has performed with many notable artists in the Canadian music scene including: The Bros. Landreth, Paul Brandt, Kardinal Offishal, Sierra Noble, Jess Moskaluke, The Dirty Catfish Brass Band, and Begonia to name a few.
Live performance has been a major part of Cody’s career, he has performed at many award shows and music festivals such as: The Canadian Country Music Awards, The Juno Awards, The Canadian Radio Music Awards, The Winnipeg Jazz Fest, The Winnipeg Folk Fest, The Saskatoon Jazz Fest, Sisters Oregon Folk Fest, Merlefest North Carolina, and The Byron Bay Blues Fest.
Cody also regularly does session work and has appeared on albums for Doc Walker, Sierra Noble, The Dirty Catfish Brass Band, and FINN, and has done many CBC sessions and appeared on film soundtracks.
Cody is an endorsed artist for Los Cabos Drumsticks, and Murat Diril cymbals.
Jeremy Epp was appointed Principal Timpanist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2014 after holding the same position with with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for four seasons. Prior to this, he had served as Principal Timpanist of the Erie Philharmonic.
Mr. Epp has made appearances with several North American orchestras as Guest Principal Timpanist, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. As a percussionist, he has performed, recorded, and toured with numerous other ensembles throughout the United States and Canada.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mr. Epp studied extensively with Jauvon Gilliam of the National Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his appointment in Winnipeg, he attended the Cleveland Institute of Music where his teachers were Cleveland Orchestra members Paul Yancich and Richard Weiner. Additionally, Mr. Epp has worked with with several other prominent timpanists, including David Herbert, Mark Yancich, and Dean Borghesani.
During the summer months, Mr. Epp’s engagements have included serving as Principal Timpanist of the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, the National Repertory Orchestra, and the Bear Valley Festival Orchestra. He has also studied and performed at the Aspen Music Festival.
Active as an educator, Mr. Epp has been an instructor at the University of Manitoba, and has given clinics and masterclasses internationally.
In 2014, Ben Reimer completed a Doctorate in Music at McGill University in Montreal. Blurring the boundaries between popular music and contemporary classical performance, his main focus of research and performance has been to demonstrate how the drumset, traditionally an improvised instrument, has recently emerged as a solo instrument with prescribed notation. This is explored in his dissertation, “Defining the Role of Drumset in Contemporary Music Performance.”
Between 2012 and 2014, Ben premiered four concertos by Nicole Lizée: Triple Concerto for Power Trio and Orchestra, “Fantasia on Themes by Rush” with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Edwin Outwater conducting, “The Man with the Golden Arms”: Concerto for Drumset and Orchestra with SMCQ, Walter Boudreau conducting, “Son of the Man with the Golden Arms”: Concerto for Drumset and Extended Percussion Quartet with Architek Percussion Quartet in Montreal and “Katana of Choice”: for Drumset soloist and Percussion Quartet with TorQ Percussion in Toronto.
Ben is a member of Architek Percussion, a Montreal-based quartet dedicated to the development and performance of avant-garde, experimental, minimalist, and electroacoustic music.
Eric Platz is a drummer and percussionist whose performing career encompasses a diverse array of styles including jazz, Americana, Afro-Cuban, Arabic, North African, and contemporary improvisation. He has toured extensively throughout North Americaperforming at venues including the Blue Note and Lincoln Center in New York City, the House of Blues in New Orleans, and at festivals including the Winnipeg Jazz and Folk Festivals, the Sasktel Jazz Festival in Saskatoon and the Sephardic Music Festival in Brooklyn. Current projects include the Complete Rebirth of the Cool ensemble, whose most recent recording was nominated for a 2014 Western Canadian Music Award, and the New York Andalus Ensemble which performs traditional repertoire of southern Spain and northern Africa. Eric is also a regular guest with the Saskatoon and Winnipeg Jazz Orchestras and recently performed with the Winnipeg Symphony as part of the Pops series. He is currently completing work on a recording featuring his original compositions for percussion, clarinet and cello. Eric is an Assistant Professor at Brandon University School of Music where he teaches jazz ensembles, applied drumset, world music, and jazz styles. He is an endorsing artist for Vic Firth Drumsticks.